Feminist Film Studies

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And another question: could we perhaps add that your essay simply needed to be written and was timely precisely because Metz left women out?

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The female viewer seems to have been a blind spot for him. Was your manifesto meant to fill this gap? Mulvey: The Metz essay was due to be published in the same issue of Screen as my essay. Ben had told me about the Metz essay but agreed that it would be better to focus on the deadline.

It would have been very easy to throw me off course and Ben was an extremely skilled and supportive editor. He also came up with the title.


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Courtesy of Olivia Gragnon. Backman Rogers: Laura, in conversation at the Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam, [7] you mentioned that you considered Alfred Hitchcock to be a co-author of the article on visual pleasure. Indeed, his films seem uniquely suited to visualising the psychic drives and internal conflicts that you elaborate on.

Mulvey: I do not think I would have admitted or realised that at the time, but a great deal of my concerns in the article, and my subsequent work, came out of my love of Hollywood cinema and my discovery of psychoanalysis, as I just pointed out. Of course, with the advent of digital technology and the alteration of how we watch, analyse, and consume films, our relationship to these kinds of images has changed.

Looking back though, I see that my early fascination with certain films, such as The Red Shoes which was probably the second film I ever saw has influenced my writing in a number of ways…. Mulvey: It was the only clear image of memory of the film that I had retained since seeing it as a child…. Backman Rogers: It seems to me that this is a foundational idea for your seminal work on the digital turn in Death 24x a Second.


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In what is to my mind a work of exemplary film philosophy, you elaborate on the idea that alongside this altered relation to the image and how we can view it, we also come to see the image as archive. Stillness or stasis, as a signifier of death, haunts the moving image. I am so intrigued by this idea of hauntology, also the ways in which we create meaning or put into narrative and order can be destabilised by the potential for disruption that stillness creates. I am continually struck by the passage in which you talk about the cinematic retrospectives organised around certain film stars and how a kind of aura is created through this.

Perhaps a more poignant example would be your film of Marilyn Monroe in which you distil every gesture and movement of her seductive dance routine. I think this idea of the still image that comes to life, the tension between stillness and movement, has actually informed your scholarship throughout your career. When the cinema apparatus changed radically in the s and s, classical Hollywood narrative cinema inevitably changed.

Feminist Film Theory

TV and video had entered the scene and had an immediate impact on the spectator. Furthermore, from the s onward, and even more clearly from the s onward, the impact of digital devices was widely felt. All these devices allowed film viewers a less passive role than the one analysed by you, Laura, as typical of Hollywood cinema. You suggest, in other words, that your manifesto is a historical piece now.

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I know you are going to object to the comparison but, just for the sake of clarity, would it not be helpful to speak, like with Picasso, of three distinct phases in your work? Moreover, you added a dialogue with Miranda July. What did you and Anna feel were urgent topics to deal with in your new book? Mulvey: I think the three phases work well! Or rather the first two are clear to me, and I like the way that the third enters in. Most of all, working on the book with Anna was a learning experience for me.

I learned a great deal from my dialogue with Martine, which, alongside working with Anna, was one of the illuminating and exciting aspects of the book.

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Backman Rogers: I think one of the things that Laura and I found both inspiring and perhaps a little difficult in terms of drawing up an outline for the book was the sheer amount of material that was available to us. Of course, we were working across a generational divide which also served to illuminate or perhaps contextualise the remit of what we would cover.

We knew that certain contemporary, and perhaps even controversial, issues would have to be addressed such as pornography and theories of affect , and so we decided to focus almost entirely on new and emerging phenomena and to work with younger scholars. One major shift has been in the field of activism, because the notion of collective agency has changed. Multiplicity and diversity are central themes of the book, and the idea was not to shut down or delimit what feminism is and how it functions as a philosophy and politics.

Interestingly, the question of activism is one that has been raised in a number of settings as we have promoted the book. Don't have access? View purchasing options.

The creature from the feminist film-studies lecture

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Feminist film theory

Loading content A Small. Bev Zalcock Updated: 8 August Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du commerce, Bruxelles The criteria for the films in this list are that they are fictional, made by women and feature female protagonists. Finally, all are made in the spirit of liberation. I wanted, however, to focus on films that provide images of celebration rather than endurance.

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Films directed by men, in spite of there being some key titles, have been excluded as female filmmakers are too often absent from this type of list. Availability for feminist classics is scarce. Where, for example, are the films of Stephanie Rothman? Other filmmakers that should be mentioned in the context of feminist filmmaking are the Hollywood directors, who in the late s and early s were part of a new wave of feminist film, among them Joan Micklin Silver Between the Lines, , Claudia Weill Girlfriends, and Susan Seidelman Smithereens, and Desperately Seeking Susan, The directors working in Britain today must also be acknowledged.

Their films provide examples of interesting and often inspirational female characters. The Seashell and the Clergyman It is a generally unrecognised fact that women played a significant role in the development of filmmaking. Like the Suffragettes, whose marches are recorded on early 20th century newsreel, women were activists behind the camera as well. Germaine Dulac was involved in the avant garde in Paris in the s. Both The Smiling Madame Beudet and The Seashell and the Clergyman are important early examples of radical experimental feminist filmmaking, and provide an antidote to the art made by the surrealist brotherhood.

The film features a central female character, who is deeply subversive and resists the power of the king and the desire of the priest. In one memorable sequence she holds aloft a burning bra — prefiguring a much later activism! If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable. Marianne and Juliane Margarethe von Trotta started making films as part of the New German Cinema wave in the s, that typically dealt with the repression of the state. Her early films explored the psychology of relationships between women, often sisters or very close friends.

In Marianne and Juliane aka The German Sisters von Trotta explores the twin themes of state repression and family guilt. The film is loosely based on real-life sisters Christiane and Gudrun Ensslin — the latter a key member of the Red Army Faction. The film documents in a series of flashbacks the childhood and the changing bond between the two women, one a journalist, the other a street fighter.

A Question of Silence The premise of this Dutch radical feminist film is that men and women inhabit different universes. It is a female conspiracy film built around a central incident in which three women, a mute housewife, a garrulous cafe worker and a business secretary, unite to batter a male shop assistant to death. While the women await trial, a female psychiatrist is employed to assess their sanity. As they are led out of court still laughing manically, representatives of the male judiciary look on bewildered.

At the time of its release, audiences were similarly divided along gender lines: women understood it, men hated it!

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Born in Flames When Adelaide Norris, a black lesbian feminist and trade unionist, dies in police custody, the women, individually and in groups, get together to fight back against state oppression. White women, get ready. Red women, stay ready. The Gold Diggers The film is also concerned with the power of the image, mediated through an examination of cinema itself — its history and its ideological power. The film was shot in stunning high contrast black and white and filmed on location in Iceland. Its stark images reference moments from early cinema, such as the silent shorts of D.

Griffiths and the Hollywood musical Gold Diggers of , from which it derives its name. Additionally the film incorporates aspects of feminist film theory, including notions of the male gaze. The relationship between the two female protagonists, one black and the other white, highlights the complex relationship between gender and race, which in turn throws into relief the relationship between capitalism and colonialism. The film is notable for its all-female crew.

The three screenwriters, Sally Potter , Rose English and Lindsay Cooper , were also responsible for the artistic elements — dance, art design and music, respectively.



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